"Dear Vonnie" Children Staring

Each Thursday, I will do my best to answer your questions. I don't pretend to be an expert, but I know it's not easy being a wife and mother. It can be frustrating and discouraging, yet very rewarding. I'd be glad to listen to you, pray for you, and share some of my thoughts with you.

So, ask me something... anything...

Dear Vonnie,

What advice do you have when young children see a cancer patient with no hair and are staring? Or scared? And say something aloud?

What do I say?

In our society, for an older child or an adult it is rude to just stare at someone, but most people understand that young children are just curious.

Seeing someone who is of a different skin color or handicapped or sickly or bald is different. A child knows something is different, and he is curious. Even very young toddler knows enough about life to know that this person is not like him--and he will stare because he is trying to understand it.

In a calm and gentle manner, tell the child the situation in simple terms. If it is possible, ask the person if you can talk with them. Most people don't mind and often would rather folks would talk with them, rather than stare. Let the child ask questions. If they are shy or afraid of the person, you ask questions that you think they might be wondering.

"Does it hurt?"
"Will it happen to me?"
"Will it get better?"

In Maine, the large majority of us are white skinned--whiter than most because of our long winters ! (smile) My daughter, age two, saw a black-skinned woman in our grocery store. As young children often do, she said very loudly, "Mama, look at that lady's face!" I was embarrassed, but the woman was understanding and came over to us with a smile. She let my daughter touch her arm and see that she was just like us, only with dark skin. I thought that was so wise of her.

Let your child see that there's nothing to fear of something being different. Teach them to ask questions and to desire to learn new things. They will be more sympathetic and more understanding of the next person they meet. Who knows? They may go into medicine or cancer research when they grow up.


Proverbs 27:19 said...

Simple, yet huge answer.

I like the new pics of your grandsons! It's nice to "see" them growing!


Anonymous said...

My sister's young daughter saw a man with only one leg. My sister tried to prepare for whatever her daughter said. The little one only wanted to know where his shoe was.
Thanks for this, Vonnie! Sunny


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